I Love Long Lines: A Christmas Letter to West Franklin

I Love Long Lines: A Christmas Letter to West Franklin December 25, 2021
West Franklin Family,
Anyone who knows me knows that there is no way I could write the title to this letter a week ago. The opposite would have been the case. Prior to this week, I hated – despised – every single line I have ever had to stand or sit in. Grocery store lines. Traffic. Lines to order a meal. Lines to go the bathroom. Lines at the DMV. Lines to get my oil changed. Lines to pay for a soft drink. And, of course, lines to ride a roller coaster. HATED them. All of them. And, if you know me, I have a knack for picking the slowest/longest line available. It’s a spiritual gift.
I have spent my life standing in and hating lines.
Until now.
Something happened this week that totally changed my perspective of lines. If you’ve ever been to Disney World at Christmas, you know there are lines. Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – goes to Disney World at Christmas. People. People. So. Many. People. Lines to get a pretzel. Lines to get a Dole Whip. Lines to go to the bathroom. Lines to buy a T-shirt. Lines to get a hamburger. Lines to see Mickey. Lines to see Goofy. Lines to see Minnie. Lines to get in the park. Lines to leave the park. Lines to get on a bus. Lines to check in. Lines to see a show. Lines to get a cup of coffee. Lines to get a good seat for the firework extravaganzas. And, of course, lines to ride rides. LOOOOOONG lines to ride rides. At first, I was mad. Irritated. Frustrated. Angry. Impatient. Some of the shortest wait times for the rides we wanted to ride were 75 minutes long. Yes. You read that right. An hour and fifteen minutes long . . . and that was a short wait for most of the rides.
I noticed something on day two of our trip. All five Pearson’s were together, in line, talking. Laughing. Conversing. Together. That’s right. For four days, we were in line – as a family. For four days, we were together, talking. For four days, no one was going to a friend’s house, or school, or work, or practice, or a game, or upstairs, or to their room. We were clumped together, talking – for hours. It was wonderful. Oh how I love lines!!! And the longer the better! I don’t know if we will ever have as much concentrated time where all five Pearson’s were together – again. Thank you God. . . for lines.
West Franklin, it’s Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I am guessing today and/or tomorrow and/or the next day, you will be with family. You will be “forced” to sit at a table or share living room space with people you don’t see very often. Or perhaps you do see them often but now you have extended time with them. It could be awkward. It could be frustrating. It may make you irritable. I get it. But let me encourage you to lean into the moment and embrace it. Like being “stuck” in a long line, enjoy it with the people right in front of you. You can’t fix them. They can’t fix you. But you can enjoy them. You can love them. You can listen to them. You can value their existence and presence. You can learn how they are wired and what makes them tick. Who knows? It may be the last time you are with these people – in this kind of setting.
Before this week, I hated long lines. There is a good chance I will hate them again soon. But if my family is with me, I hope I get to stand in a lot of really long lines. You may not enjoy traveling “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” But you’re going. Or they’re coming. Leave your phone in your pocket. Or in the car. Pay attention to who’s right in front of you. Don’t let the fact that you are standing in a line (or with the in-laws) distract you from who is with you, right now, today.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to pack the car for a road trip to Birmingham with my wife and three kids. I may or may not be hoping for a traffic jam so we can spend more time together.
Merry Christmas, West Franklin. Your pastor loves you and is incredibly grateful for each of you.
Because He Came and Is Coming Again,
Pastor Matt

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